One of our current CIDA-IYIP interns, Barbara Dourley is focusing on green economy in Durban, South Africa.
In January, 2011 Aqualima, an eThekwini (Durban)-based organization that specializes in sustainable water and energy solutions, launched a greywater re-use programme targeting seven households in the Kwa Ximba, Cato Ridge area located North-West of Durban. The project is funded by the Imagine Durban Demonstration Fund, which is funded by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) through a partnership with Sustainable Cities International. The purpose of the Demonstration Fund is to test and demonstrate innovative approaches to sustainable living.
The project, still ongoing, seeks to enhance both water and food security among the participant households by instituting a simple, effective and safe method for the households to re-use their greywater for irrigation of food gardens. In February, Aqualima installed greywater receptacles with filters at each of the homes and gravity feed pipes from the receptacles to the sites of the future domestic food gardens. A ring main consisting of a perforated pipe placed at root level is used to distribute the greywater throughout the gardens.
In March, Aqualima hosted two training sessions for the members of the participant households. The sessions included training in organic farming and permaculture principles as well as greywater re-use and safety. Since then, the members of the households have been active in applying the principles they learned during the training. A sense of community and shared learning has also emerged among the participants. They have been working at each other’s homes on a rotational basis, contributing to the success of one another’s food gardens. This has been an unplanned but nonetheless valuable outcome of the initiative.
At least one technical innovation has been incorporated into the project. Dave Alcock, a veteran in the field of implementing sustainable water and energy solutions and a member of the Aqualima Team, is testing the use of coke bottles as an alternative model of water delivery to the gardens. Instead of using a ring main to distribute the water from the gravity feed pipes to the gardens, a series of connected coke bottles placed at root level waters the gardens (pictured below). This adds a third dimension of sustainability to the project, in addition to food and water security: finding a use for recyclable material. The coke bottle system is innovative because it is easy to design and is created from materials already available in many households (discarded bottles). This can save gardeners the cost and hassle of having to purchase water mains for irrigation.
The greywater re-use pilot programme in Kwa Ximba will continue until the end of August. The objective is that the project will inspire similar initiatives in the community and serve as a demonstration of the potential of holistic and self-sustaining water and food solutions in rural households.